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Carnegie Museum of Art Carnegie Museum of Art

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Bookcase

Robert Adam (British, 1728–1792)

Antonio Zucchi (Italian, 1726–1796)

1776

Medium painted mahogany, gilded bronze, and brass Measurements H: 76 1/2 x W: 41 x D: 13 1/4 in. (194.31 x 104.14 x 33.66 cm) Credit Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund and prior gift of bequest of Katherine B. Noble, estate of Robert S. Waters, Mrs. G. Harton Singer, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Charles Denby, Alice W. Thomas, Rosamund Reed Denby in memory of Adele Wilcox Reed, Mr. and Mrs. H. J. Heinz III, Charles D. Armstrong, Mrs. Thomas Childs Wurts, William Walker II, and Stanley and Charlotte Bernstein, by exchange. Accession Number 1998.2.1 Location Gallery 2, Scaife Galleries

Narrative

With their dancing nymphs, sacred urns with ribboned swags, and back-to-back griffins poised as guards, these cabinets are superior examples of neoclassical design. Also noteworthy are the scenic tablets at the top of the cabinets inspired by Ovid's Metamorphoses. "Triumph of Love" celebrates the union of Bacchus and Ariadne, who ride in a chariot pulled by panthers, and "Offering to Hymen" shows elegantly robed figures bringing the wedding feast. Allusions to love and a celebration fit for the gods were appropriate motifs for a pair of cabinets designed for the London home of newlyweds Sir William Watkins Wynn and Charlotte Grenville (see also 1998.2.2). Wynn commissioned Robert Adam, arguably the most famous British architect and interior designer of the time, to redecorate the entire house in the fashionable neoclassical taste. The cabinets occupied two niches in Lady Wynn's dressing room. Many details in Adam's designs for the Wynns relate directly to sketches from a tour of the Mediterranean that he made between 1754 and 1758. The stiff laurel leaves painted on the cabinet's frieze, for example, relate to his drawing of the Palace of Diocletian at Spalato (also known as the city of Split in present-day Croatia).